On Reinstating the Draft

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Much
has been made by the new administration of the idea of national
service and volunteerism. While service to one’s community
is certainly admirable, it is not the federal government’s
place to “encourage” or promote volunteerism. Moreover,
there are troubling signs that national service could transition
from voluntary to mandatory, or de facto mandatory, such as the
requirement of service in order to be granted a diploma, or something
along those lines.

Involuntary
servitude was supposed to be abolished by the 13th Amendment, but
things like Selective Service and the income tax make me wonder
how serious we really are in defending just basic freedom. The income
tax enslaves workers for nearly 4 months out of a year by garnishing
what amounts to all their wages in that period of time. A military
draft could demand your very life, without your consent. This should
be unthinkable in a free society.

Proponents
of reinstating the draft claim it is needed to protect liberty from
enemies abroad. But what about the enemies of liberty right here
at home? I am convinced that there are more threats to American
liberty within the 10-mile radius of my office on Capitol Hill than
there are on the rest of the globe. If we would get our troops off
of foreign soil, those perceived enemies of our liberty abroad are
much more likely to stand down and let us be. We have more than
enough troops to mind our own business and defend ourselves. It
is only for world domination that we have a troop shortage.

Nevertheless,
some think recruiting for our military is too low and that the younger
generation will not answer the call of duty willingly, and must
be drafted by force. I take extreme exception to this characterization
of young people today. First of all, I believe they correctly see
that foreign policy, as unpopular as it has been under Bush, is
not significantly changing under Obama, and has little, if anything,
to do with defending the United States, and certainly not the Constitution.
Second, many see friends and acquaintances who have voluntarily
enlisted, and have taken note of how the soldier, the veteran is
treated. Perhaps rather than blaming younger generations for being
selfish, older generations should remember their promises to those
who volunteer for military service and be mindful of how they are
treated. Every homeless vet by the side of the road, every suicide,
every report of substandard conditions in veteran hospitals is a
sign of how we let our military down. Perhaps we should look to
those issues if we have problems with military recruitment, rather
than to trample freedom in the name of protecting it.

If that is
not enough reason, consider that most in the military are against
a draft. There is a vast difference between serving alongside another
volunteer, and serving alongside a reluctant conscript. Americans
need to be on the lookout for any propaganda trying to ease us back
into the draft. Too often a flawed foreign policy prompts the need
for a draft. Abolishing the Selective Service is one thing we could
do to counter those efforts.

See
the Ron Paul File

February
17, 2009

Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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Paul Archives

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